Here are 7 perfect songs for the harmonica beginner. All the notes are in the middle register: holes 4, 5, and 6 – the easiest notes to play!
These are simple songs, but to play them well you should have good control of all the notes in the middle register, both individually and when moving between holes. Also, it’s advisable to practice articulations using syllables “TA” and “DA” when doing repetitions of blow and draw notes respectively. You can see these articulations marked in bold in the tablature.
Another way to make reading easy is to add the syllable of the articulation (“TA” for the blow notes and “DA” for the draw ones) as in the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” tablature.
The songs are arranged by difficulty, and each song has a slow practice version and an original tempo version. It is convenient to learn the song bit by bit, and then play it all together.
Playing a song with clean sound is more important than playing fast.
The last two songs, “This Old Man” and “Jingle Bells”, have various articulations and many passages of hole leaps, which make them even more demanding for a beginner.
When you jump holes, you must not move your mouth too far from the harmonica; just try to keep the gap to a minimum to land right at the center of the hole you want to play next. When you jump from holes 6 to 4, you could accidentally play hole 5 by falling short, or on hole 3 by jumping too far. At first, difficulties in hole leaps are common because you have no reference, but you will improve this with practice!
The tablature I use is the arrow system – up arrow for blow notes and down arrow for draw notes. Learn more about different tablature systems in this article: “How to read harmonica tabs”
I play all the songs with a 10 hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C (letter C).
2. Ode to Joy
The second part of the song (last 3 lines) is repeated. Although the tablature says 3 blow, which is the note of the original song, the last line in the audio is recorded in the same note one octave higher (G in the middle register). Playing 6 blow instead of 3 blow is a variant to test the jump from hole 4 to 6 since we are working with holes 4, 5 and 6 at this point – the easiest ones to play on the harmonica.